So much potential, so many red flags.
The NHL Draft is coming up quickly and the San Jose Sharks fall just out of the top-10 in the first round, selecting 11th overall. Ahead of the draft, we’ll profile a handful of players who should be available, and make a case for the team to draft them … or run the other way.
Brad Lambert, F — Liiga Pelicans
Weight: 183 lbs.
Age at Draft: 18
2021-2022 Regular Season (Liiga JYP): 24 GP, 2 G, 4 A, .24 PPG
2021-2022 Regular Season (Liiga Pelicans): 25 GP, 2 G, 2 A, .16 PPG
2021-2022 Regular Season Total: 49 GP, 4 G, 6 A, .20 PPG
2022 Liiga Playoffs: 3 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0.00 PPG
THE SCOUTING REPORTS
When it comes to puck movement, Lambert thinks two moves ahead. He will complete behind the back passes as he cuts to centered ice and a teammate comes rushing up the left half-wall. If he collects the puck off of a pass when he’s near the corner facing the blue line, he’ll skate towards the blue line, button hook, and throw a pass back to the corner. That brings the defender with him and opens up ice down low in the corner. Lambert is aware that with his excellent puck skills that he can lure defenders to him and open up lanes for his teammates.
Any player deemed worthy of a top ten selection typically earns their spot by having a few elite traits that they are able to practically apply to drive results for their team. In Brad Lambert’s case, these traits are his elite puck handling abilities, a vast arsenal of passes, profound vision, thorough in-game processing and his fluid, dynamic skating that can only be mentioned among the very best in recent draft classes.
— Sam McGilligan, McKeen’s (Paywall)
THE CASE AGAINST
You know that person you date and you have a ton of fun with them, but there are red flags galore? You know this, but you are having so much fun with them and what they could be that you don’t pay attention to the issues right in front of you? That’s Brad Lambert.
Lambert is one of the most talented players in the entire draft. He was widely considered a top-three player alongside Shane Wright and Ivan Miroshnichenko about 18 months ago. Then things started to turn. Lambert ended up playing for three different teams in less than three seasons, topping out with just 15 points in 46 games during the 2020-21 season with Liiga’s JYP. His inability to seem to stick in one place is a red flag.
Is Lambert just a kid stuck in bad situations, or was he in part to blame for their creation?
THE CASE FOR
The raw talent is simply too much to pass up on.
Although we want prospects to put up points, sometimes it is out of their control (hello, William Eklund and Ozzy Wiesblatt). Lambert’s FYP team went 14-34-8-4 this season and were outscored by 82 goals. His Pelican team went 25-21-4-10 and had an even goals differential. The Pelicans have one player who was drafted in the top-100 (Mikko Kokkonen by the Toronto Maple Leafs) and six total players who have been drafted to the NHL. They also are the 11th-youngest team in the entire Liiga, so it’s not like the team is loaded with talent.
Surrounded with more talent, in two games with Finland at the 2022 World Junior Championships, Lambert posted 5 points (1 goal, 4 assists) and tied for second in scoring across the entire tournament.
It feels like Lambert needs to be put into the right situation to be able to succeed and the Sharks have the potential to be that. The promotion of new San Jose Barracuda head coach John McCarthy and the newfound focus on the development of prospects for the NHL, Lambert might thrive in a structure where he wouldn’t have to be the guy every night.
Because Lambert would be coming from Europe, he could go straight to the AHL following the draft, and isn’t currently under contract with a Finnish team. Maybe coming over and playing with the heralded 2020 Sharks draft class where he can ease in might be the best course of action. Wrap him in the teal blanket of San Jose development and let him marinate in their own backyard to provide all the support he needs.. Especially after William Eklund’s “down” season in Sweden, the front office might look to keep players a little closer to the vest.
Lambert has been thought of as a potential Best Player In The Draft who has a ton of red flags. He has a huge range of outcomes — including never playing a game in the NHL — but if he hits, it could make the Sharks something to watch out for sooner than later.